EU’s ‘for­got­ten ones’ easy targets for ex­trem­ism

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

The ter­ror­ist at­tacks at the air­port and a sub­way sta­tion in Brus­sels on Tues­day came just a few days af­ter the Bel­gian police cap­tured Salah Ab­deslam, the sus­pected leader of Novem­ber’s Paris at­tacks, in a re­cent raid.

It is both as­ton­ish­ing and lam­en­ta­ble that Bel­gium, a Euro­pean Union mem­ber state known for its gen­eros­ity to­ward im­mi­grants and its di­verse cul­ture has fallen prey to ter­ror at­tacks.

It seems some­thing is wrong with the so­cial gover­nance and se­cu­rity situation in the Euro­pean Union. It is note­wor­thy that Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, one of the big­gest se­cu­rity con­cerns for the EU, has ac­tu­ally de­vel­oped from within.

Marginal­ized, cold-shoul­dered and rad­i­cal­ized, these ex­trem­ists have Euro­pean iden­ti­ties, a clear un­der­stand­ing of what is go­ing on in their neigh­bor­hoods, and deep grudges against so­ci­ety.

These “for­got­ten ones” are easy targets for re­li­gious ex­trem­ism, as they lack any sense of be­long­ing. They con­sti­tute a ma­jor threat to re­gional sta­bil­ity and will con­tinue to be one, if lo­cal gov­ern­ments re­frain from mak­ing ef­forts to bridge the gap be­tween the haves and the havenots.

Fol­low­ing the EU’s ex­pan­sion and in­te­gra­tion, the mas­sive in­flows and out­flows of peo­ple within EU bor­ders, have be­come a headache for many coun­tries’ se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties, as ter­ror­ists have even plot­ted cross-bor­der as­saults un­der the cover of the “free mi­gra­tion” in Europe. In­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties and the sur­veil­lance of cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als of­ten in­volve sovereignty and state se­crets, and Euro­pean coun­tries, es­pe­cially those with less in­tel­li­gence re­sources, al­ways find it dif­fi­cult to keep a closer eye on lo­cal se­cu­rity af­fairs and pre­pare for la­tent dan­gers.

In fact, “West­ern lib­er­al­ism” seems to have re­sulted in Euro­pean gov­ern­ments grad­u­ally los­ing their con­trol over se­cu­rity, as they have al­lowed ter­ror­ists to dis­sem­i­nate ex­trem­ism and re­cruit ter­ror­ists via the In­ter­net.

Given the in­creas­ing num­ber of ter­ror­ist at­tacks inside the EU com­mu­nity, the price for free­dom may be too high for all economies, many of which are al­ready strug­gling to fight back in the face of the bar­baric at­tacks. For them, it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to safe­guard their na­tional se­cu­rity with just their own strengths.

How­ever, the prospects of other op­tions, in­clud­ing so­lic­it­ing sup­port from a uni­fied Euro­pean se­cu­rity agency and a to­tal re­treat back to orig­i­nal bor­ders, are equally dim – the for­mer is not in line with the sovereignty of coun­tries, while the lat­ter is hardly pos­si­ble.

The au­thor is an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, and a re­search fel­low at the Cen­ter for China and Glob­al­iza­tion.

LI FENG / CHINA DAILY

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